First established in the 1940s and refurbished with new buildings in the 1950s, the still-extant but abandoned film studio at No. 8 Jalan Ampas (off Balestier Road), is an endearing testament to the golden era of Malay film production in Singapore during the 1950s to 60s. The studio complex – then complete with sound stages, editing and dubbing studios, make-up rooms, film vaults and offices – was owned and run by the Shaw Brothers Malay Film Productions Ltd (MFP), the movie production arm of the Shaws’ expansive vertically-integrated organisation. More than 150 feature movies were produced by the studio over a span of two decades.
The studio complex itself was even featured in the films it made, for example, P. Ramlee’s Seniman Bujang Lapok (1961), in which ‘Jalan Ampas’ is portrayed as itself – a dream factory, where three “mouldy bachelors” seek employment as film artistes. In contrast, Mogok (1957) depicts the studio as a factory with picketing workers gathered at the entrance holding placards and banners with fiery messages. MFP eventually folded in 1967, due to a mix of political factors, labour unrest, and competition from television. The studio complex then fell into disuse until today.